UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom has sanctioned Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s LoveWorld Television Ministry for airing false and “potentially harmful statements” about the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Ofcom said the Christian channel aired a sermon that promoted a baseless conspiracy that the virus is linked to the roll-out of 5G Network.
It also insinuated a “global coverup”.
In addition Loveworld news also claimed that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19, without proof.
“Our investigation found that a report on Loveworld News included unsubstantiated claims that 5G was the cause of the pandemic, and that this was the subject of a ‘global cover-up’, Ofcom said.
“Another report during the programme suggested hydroxychloroquine as a ‘cure’ for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its effectiveness and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making clear that it has potentially serious side effects”, it added.
Ofcom said Loveworld breached Rules 2.1 and 5.1 of the Broadcasting Code.
Loveworld’s sanction was non-monetary, for now. Ofcom simply wanted it to broadcast its findings that debunked its fake news and sermon.
But it also warned about a further sanction: “We are considering whether to impose any further sanction,” the statement added.
Loveworld TV was not the only violator of the UK broadcasting code punished by Ofcom on Monday.
Ofcom also sanctioned London Live and radio station Uckfield FM for airing similar false claims without them being sufficiently challenged.
Oyakhilome’s Loveworld, also known as Christ Embassy, is based in Lagos but has operations in several countries across the world, including South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The church has at least 90 branches in the UK and an estimated 13 million followers around the world, according to one estimate.
Read the full Ofcom statement:
Ofcom has today imposed a sanction on Loveworld Limited, which broadcasts the religious television channel Loveworld, after a news programme and a live sermon included potentially harmful claims about Covid-19.
Our investigation found that a report on Loveworld News included unsubstantiated claims that 5G was the cause of the pandemic, and that this was the subject of a ‘global cover-up’. Another report during the programme suggested hydroxychloroquine as a ‘cure’ for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its effectiveness and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making clear that it has potentially serious side effects.
A sermon broadcast on Your Loveworld also included unsubstantiated claims linking the pandemic to 5G technology, as well as claims which cast serious doubt on the necessity for lockdown measures and the motives behind official health advice on Covid-19, including in relation to vaccination.
There is no ban on broadcasting controversial views which are different from, or which challenge, official authorities on public health information. However, given the unsubstantiated claims in both these programmes were not sufficiently put into context, they risked undermining viewers’ trust in official health advice, with potentially serious consequences for public health.
Given these serious failings, we concluded that Loveworld Limited did not adequately protect viewers from the potentially harmful content in the news programme and the sermon, and the news reports were not duly accurate. Loveworld Limited must broadcast our findings and we are considering whether to impose any further sanction.